Virtual Talmud

Virtual Talmud

The Randomness of Anti-Semitism

Only in America, was my response to the New York Post story referred to by Rabbi Grossman. Could one ever imagine the same scene playing itself out in a European subway? Aside from it being a truly heartwarming story of how a Muslim saved a Jew from Christian anti-Judaism, the happening highlights just how unique American religious relationships are vis-à-vis the rest of the world.
The story is basically proof of the randomness of religious discrimination in America. What strikes me is just how easily any of the roles or elements of story could theoretically be interchanged. We should never fool ourselves: Anti-Semitism still exists in this country. But Rabbi Grossman is wrong when she suggests, “that the story is both warm and chilling. It reminds us that anti-Semitism is prevalent not only in Europe and throughout the Arab world, but also remains a constant here in the good old US of A.”


Anti-Semitic acts on American soil should never be confused with the rampant and calculated anti-Semitism that infects Europe. The Post story shows us how anti-Semitism has gone from a premeditated evil to something so random that it can be used as the backdrop for a Holiday story of rapprochement between Muslim’s and Jews! People who read the story were not shocked or concerned of a major outbreak of anti-Semitism in New York. As concerned as Rabbi Grossman is, something tells me that New York Jewry is not preparing for the outbreak of a major pogrom on the West Side of Manhattan. What got the story on the front page was not the news that there still exist a few hoodlums on the subways of NYC, but that there are more than a few good and decent human beings that live in this country.

Comments read comments(10)
post a comment

posted December 20, 2007 at 11:14 am

What United States is the writer living in? In the one I’m living in, anti-semitic remarks and slurs are common, and actually seem to be getting worse. Glad that the writer is living in a nice safe haven, but for those of us living West of the Hudson, it ain’t all raisins and almonds, thank you very much. Israel-bashing is becoming more common, which seems to be opening the floodgates for the open anti-semitism which usually hides behind it.

report abuse

E. McGill Duffee, Jr

posted December 20, 2007 at 12:58 pm

Although the theory is no longer in vogue, my ancestors hail from the Scottish Hebrides, and there was a time when the Scythian (Scoti) forebears of my kin were thought to include some of the ‘lost tribes’ of Israel. Be that as it may, I am an evangelical Christian of the United Methodist persuasion, serving as a pastor in the southern Bible belt. If you are feeling persecuted as a Jew, I encourage you to move south! All through this region you will find the staunchest supporters of Israel and an underlying appreciation of our Jewish brothers and sisters as a People for whom God has plans for good, and not for evil, that they still have a future and a hope. Merry Christmas, AND Happy Channukah, however you choose to spell it!

report abuse


posted December 20, 2007 at 1:22 pm

Just read the lefty blogs for a huge hit of anti-semitism. Just go hear a lecture by an artsy prof at any university.
Hopefully the US will move more to the right, socially, politically and economically.

report abuse


posted December 20, 2007 at 3:02 pm

I agree with Dave. Anti-Semitism in the U.S. is not only prevalent, but it is very strong on the left, and dominant among the extreme left. I agree with one aspect of what Mr. Duffee says, if you want to find the strongest supporters of Israel, look to Southern Christians, who support Israel far more strongly than do liberal Jews.

report abuse

Nelson R.

posted December 20, 2007 at 5:16 pm

I must respectfully disagree with Dave and Doug. On the left and in the lefty blogs, we find ourselves in a quandry. Why, you ask?
For this simple reason, in Israel at this time, the Israeli government is perpetrating the worst kind of Anti-Semitic, religious and prejudicial acts. These acts are perpetrated against the Palestinians and yet, the only one’s to speak out against this extreme form of aparthied are the people on the left, especially the people on the left
who have been to Israel and have seen the plight of innocent men, women
and children who have done nothing wrong but happen to be born Palestinian.
Equating Anti-Semitism with Anti-Zionism is often a mistake made by those of the so-called Christian right, in the mistaken belief that they have to prop up a government that commits the worst kind of prejudice and bigotry. The reason the “Christian Right,” does this, so that Armageddon will take place and their Lord Jesus will return, as described in the Book of Revelation.
Please know that anti-semitism is alive and well in the areas of the south as well as those of the northern part of the US.

report abuse


posted December 20, 2007 at 11:54 pm

When I refused some food a neighbor was serving her remark to me was: “what, my cooking isn’t kosher enough for you”? She said it in a not so nice way!

report abuse

Robert Kaiser

posted December 21, 2007 at 1:51 am

There has always been religious bigotry between people who are different.There will be an end to bigotry, and peace in the middle east when the Palestineans, the Isrealites and the others accept the following condept:
There is one God for all peoples. He goes by many names and is honored in many ways. I pray that you will let me honor my God in my way and I will do the same for you. Peace.

report abuse

Gill Duffee

posted December 21, 2007 at 11:50 am

I realize that I interpret Jewish scripture through a Christian lens. I hope to give some insight as to how evangelical Christians, including many in the ‘Christian Right,’ view Israel. By the way, many evangelicals are coming to understand that we have been woefully in error when it comes to social justice, and that morality involves far more than just what two people choose to do in the bedroom.
But just to clarify a point raised by Nelson as to the Christian Right and Armageddon: actually, most Christians of my acquaintance pray for and support the NATION of Israel, not necessarily a particular Israeli government. This support arises, in the vast majority, NOT from a perverted desire to hasten Armageddon and see the rest of the world go to hell as soon as possible, but from scripture’s admonition to ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem.’ This is from the Psalm numbered 122 in Christian text, a song of ascents, by David. A song to be sung by pilgrims going up to Jerusalem for one of the feasts. It starts, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD’. Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem.”
This was written after David had secured the kingdom and Jerusalem had been established as the place where the God of Israel made contact with mankind, through his people Israel. Christians remember the Lord’s promise to Abraham, that through his descendants all the nations of the earth would be blessed.
Most Christians remember that the Hebrew word translated here as “peace” is actually “Shalom”, which means much more than a modern understanding of peace. We think of shalom as about wholeness and well-being in the sense of everything working together smoothly, particularly in the sense of being at one with God. The need for keeping in step with the LORD has always been a matter for the prayers of the faithful.
Jerusalem is still the city special to God, from which Yahweh seeks to bless all mankind. Modern Jerusalem is a city which is in as great a need of God’s Shalom as any other city. People there have all the same evils, stresses and hang-ups as everybody else. Secular Jews are seeking secular solutions and Muslims, in the view of most evangelicals, are seeking the pre-eminence of a different god. Perhaps we are being simplistic, but most Christians I know pray for a spiritual solution that transcends any secular agenda, with a focus on salvation, redemption, and restoration, not death and destruction.

report abuse


posted December 21, 2007 at 3:26 pm

I said anti-Semitic not anti-Israel comments. They are routine on the lefty blogs.
I have no idea what anti-semitic acts the Isreaeli government does, anti-semitic referring to anti-Jewish.

report abuse

Duvid Boanerges

posted December 21, 2007 at 11:41 pm

As both a Jew and a Christian I strongly agree with Gill Duffee and commend his eloquent dialog. I could literally sense the Spirit of True peace (Shalom) eminating from his writing. Also, as an American in New Jersey I have experienced Anti-Semitism in both blunt/violent/rude expressions and very subtle/calculating/undermining attacks. At age 6 in a central NJ neighborhood I was routinely harrassed to and from school being called vulgar anti-semitic names, having pennies thrown at me, and being beaten up. One Jewish family moved because of this, but my family was not financialy able to. This occured in the mid 1970’s. More recently, just a few years ago, at a former place of employment, I objected to a co-workers display of the natzi ss insignia on his toolbox. When he didn’t remove it I made mention of it to management and it was taken down. After that I went through about 4 years of workplace harrasment for my performance, and often had my work sabotaged in such a way to reflect poorly on my performance. I was refused overtime when often less experienced tradesmen got all the overtime they wanted or could handle. I was undermined in my position and career growth in many other very subtle ways. Things came to a head just before I quit when the person who had displayed the natzi sign and a couple of others very angrilly and vehemently told me they hated all Jews and other minorities (they used very vulgar slurs here) claiming they were ready for when “the shit hit the fan” (refering to a time when there would be war or civil unrest on USA soil); that they were well armed and would kill anyone who was not pure white… Not a single person there took notice of this, and I was sure nobody would ever admit any of this ever happened. So, without any witnesses other than myself I started to miss alot of days there and eventually quit over the phone after not showing up for several days. I also got screwed out of my unemployment as the Human resources rep there was good friends with the natzi co-workers (probably a natzi herself). I did report the incident to the proper authorities and heard later on; that the main culprit of that natzi click had his house raided and over 100 firearms were found, most of which were legally licensed to the owner, an anti-semitic natzi enthusiast! GOD help us all…

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

The Task Is Never Finished
It has been heartwarming to read the warm responses to Rabbi Waxman's post asking Beliefnet to reconsider its decision to cancel Virtual Talmud. Virtual Talmud offered an alternative model for internet communications: civil discourse pursued in ...

posted 12:31:46pm Apr. 03, 2008 | read full post »

Some Parting Reflections
Well, loyal readers, all good things must come to an end and we’ve been informed that this particular experiment in blogging as a forum for creating wide-ranging discussion on topics of interest to contemporary Jews has run its course. Maybe ...

posted 1:00:29pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

Obama's Lesson and The Jewish Community
There are few times in this blog’s history when I have felt that Rabbi Grossman was one hundred percent correct in her criticisms of my ideas. However, a few weeks ago she called me out for citing a few crack websites on Barak Obama’s ...

posted 12:09:08pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

The Future of Race Relations
As a post-baby boomer, it is interesting to me to see how much of today’s conversation about racial relations is still rooted in the 1960s experience and rhetoric of the civil rights struggle, and the disenchantment that followed. Many in the ...

posted 4:04:41pm Mar. 25, 2008 | read full post »

Wright and Wrong of Race and Jews
Years ago, as a rabbinical student, I was one of a group of rabbinical students who visited an African American seminary in Atlanta. My fellow rabbinical students and I expected an uplifting weekend of interfaith sharing like we had experienced ...

posted 12:50:11pm Mar. 24, 2008 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.